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Understanding and providing a developmental approach to technology education

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More inclusive technology education for Europe

There can be little doubt that technologies are the way of the future, but many Europeans are still being left out of making a contribution to that future. A key EU-funded project has shown the way to a more inclusive technology education system.

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In today's society, technology is playing an increasingly central role in a very broad range of careers. Unfortunately, we also know that throughout Europe women and girls are still underrepresented in technology-related areas. This is true even in countries with good gender balance in mathematics and sciences. The EU-funded 'Understanding and providing a developmental approach to technology education' (UPDATE) project was aimed at influencing European teaching. Through better teacher training and educational practices, technology careers can be made more attractive to all young people, including girls and young women. UPDATE brought together a complementary set of universities, research institutes, schools and other partners from both public and private sectors. Together, they carried out curriculum content analyses for early childhood education, elementary school education and general school education. Among the more interesting findings were that fathers and mothers appear to play a central role in encouraging children to pursue technology-related education, more so than teachers. UPDATE then delivered suggestions for curriculum development for enhanced technology education. It also produced a report on barriers to technology-related careers, as well as motivating and encouraging factors, based on national surveys. Finally, a new handbook for teachers was produced, presenting guidelines for enhanced technology education. One of the key outcomes was the setting up of a MediaWiki-based, interactive project website. This makes available all of the documents mentioned above, and elaborates on pedagogical practices for technology education at different ages, starting from early childhood. The overall message is clear: with new, improved education practices it is possible to make technology more attractive to young people. This will mean a better prepared and more diverse new generation of educators, scientists and technology developers.

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